Marat urges Parisians not to trust the king (1789)


Writing in L’Ami du Peuple on September 20th 1789, the radical journalist Jean-Paul Marat urges his readers not to trust the king or his ministers:


“I beseech my readers to observe closely that the articles to be sanctioned, over which the king, or rather his ministers, have raised difficulties, are those that relate to making good the loss of financial dues, to the suppression of tithes before having provided for the needs of the prelates, to the abolition of venal charges, and the suppression of pensions etc.

In refusing their sanction, they can only have in mind the formation of a formidable party: the clergy, the Order of Malta, the tribunals, the merchants, the financiers and the innumerable crowd of creatures that the prince buys with the state’s money.

I beseech them also to observe that in refusing to enforce to the letter the decree on the movement and export of grain, they are seeking to find a means of continuing their monopoly of these, and of reducing the people by famine.

Again I beseech them to observe that, in pressing for the financial measures, they are only awaiting the time when the public treasury is filled in order to stop the work of the National Assembly, to reduce to smoke the great work of the Constitution, and to return the people to its chains.

These then are my fears for the dangers arising from the wrong course followed by the Assembly in the past two months, fears which have been justified in the event and which have shown the correctness of my observations, unfortunately only too clearly proved.

Then there is the prince [Louis XVI], who has become once more the supreme arbiter of the law, seeking to oppose the Constitution even before it is finished. Then there are the ministers, so ridiculously exalted, whose only thought is to return to the hands of the monarch the chains of despotism that the nation has taken from him. Here then is the nation, itself enchained by its representatives and delivered defenceless to an imperious master who, forgetful of his powerlessness, violates his promises and oaths.”